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Japanese woodblock print by Eiichi Kotozuka 琴塚 英 (1906-1979) of Nene-no-Michi Lane near Yatsusaka, Kyoto on New Year’s Day (circa 1950). The rectangular shop sign reads tabako (tobacco). The round lantern sign could be a shop or Japanese inn sign and reads Sennari
Private collection Great Britain

Eiichi Kotozuka was, “born in Osaka, graduated from the Kyoto Kaiga Semmon Gakko (Technical School of Painting) in 1930. From 1932, he exhibited prints with Shun’yokai (Spring Principle Association), an artist’s organization that exhibited Western-style art. He also exhibited with the government sponsored Teiten. He was a member of Nihon Hanga Kyokai (Japan Print Association) from 1938. In addition to print making, Kotozuka exhibited Japanese-style paintings with the artists’ organization Seiryusha, which he helped found in 1929. He was also a co-founder of Koryokusha in 1948 with fellow artists Tokuriki Tomikichiro (1902-2000), Kamei Tōbei  (1901-1977) and Tasaburo Takahashi (1904-1977) which they set up to publish their creative prints (sosaku hanga). After WWII he created a number of designs for the publisher Uchida Publishing, including his most famous series Eight Snow Scenes of Kyoto.” Source The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints.

The same scene today
Source and © Photogenic Japan


Twilight at Stonehenge (circa 1840). Watercolour by William Turner of Oxford
Image credit Wikimedia Commons


Standing stone on the North York Moors

A Dream of Solstice

Qual e’ colui che somniando vede,
che dopo ‘l sogno la passione impressa
rimane, e l’altro a la mente non riede,
cotal son io…

Dante, Paradiso, Canto XXXIII

‘Like somebody who sees things when he’s dreaming
And after the dream lives with the aftermath
Of what he felt, no other trace remaining,

So I live now’, for what I saw departs
And is almost lost, although a distilled sweetness
Still drops from it into my inner heart.

It is the same with snow the sun releases,
The same as when in wind, the hurried leaves
Swirl round your ankles and the shaking hedges

That had flopped their catkin cuff-lace and green sleeves
Are sleet-whipped bare. Dawn light began stealing
Through the cold universe to County Meath,

Over weirs where the Boyne water, fulgent, darkling,
Turns its thick axle, over rick-sized stones
Millennia deep in their own unmoving

And unmoved alignment. And now the planet turns
Earth brow and templed earth, the crowd grows still
In the wired-off precinct of the burial mounds,

Flight 104 from New York audible
As it descends on schedule into Dublin,
Boyne Valley Centre Car Park already full,

Waiting for seedling light on roof and windscreen.
And as in illo tempore people marked
The king’s gold dagger when he plunged it in

To the hilt in unsown ground, to start the work
Of the world again, to speed the plough
And plant the riddled grain, we watch through murk

And overboiling cloud for the milted glow
Of sunrise, for an eastern dazzle
To send first light like share-shine in a furrow

Steadily deeper, farther available,
Creeping along the floor of the passage grave
To backstone and capstone, holding its candle

Under the rock-piled roof and the loam above.

Seamus Heaney


Wade’s Causeway, North Yorkshire, circa 1995.
Notice at bottom left that there are four upright stones. These are unique in British Roman roads, and are thought to be there to stop the road slipping in the wet peat of winter.
Colin Coulson
For more on Wade’s Causeway see The Heritage Trust’s feature by Moss here, and the Wikipedia entry on the Causeway here.
Rievaulx Abbey by William Westall (1781-1850)
The Trustees of the British Museum
Since relocating from the south to the north of England, exactly one year ago today, The Heritage Trust has been busy exploring this part of the country (North Yorkshire) and is pleased to announce that its Outreach Event this year will focus on the medieval Christian Heritage of the area. The Heritage Trust’s 2016 Outreach Event will take place over two days beginning Saturday, 13 August and ending Sunday, 14 August. Our itinerary includes a visit to the spectacular ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, and its new museum, followed by lunch at a nearby 15th century pub. We will then travel on to the charming market town of Pickering and visit the church of St Peter and St Paul there to view its world-famous medieval murals. In past Outreach Events The Heritage Trust has tried to combine culinary delights with the heritage issues we are concerned with. The first day of the Event will therefore conclude with an evening meal in one of North Yorkshire’s finest Chinese restaurants – The Queens Head at Amotherby.
On day two of the Event we plan to meet at 9am in the new Costa Coffee shop in Pickering. From there we’ll take a quiet back road over the stunning North York Moors to Whitby. The route will travel through part of  the North York National Park and will take us past a section of the Wheeldale Roman Road, the Three Howes Bronze Age barrows on Murk Mire Moor and several of the enigmatic Wheeldale standing stones.
Section of the Wheeldale Roman Road in the 1960s
The Three Howes Bronze Age barrows on Murk Mire Moor
The Heritage Trust
One of the Wheeldale Stones that stand along the Roman Road between Egton Bridge and the ford at Wheeldale Gill
On arrival in Whitby we will make our way up the 199 Steps, made famous by Bram Stoker in his Gothic horror novel Dracula, to St Mary’s Church and the stunning remains of its nearby 16th century Benedictine abbey. Here the Event will end, although participants might want explore the rest of Whitby as they wish. There is much to see in Whitby, including the Captain Cook Museum, the Whitby Museum in Pannett Park and the town’s many unique and charming little ‘yards’. There is no charge for participating in the Event, although those who do will need to provide their own transport to and from sites and pay for their own meals, admission to sites etc. Please email us if you are interested in participating, or click on the Forthcoming Events link above for updates. Otherwise just meet us outside the English Heritage gift shop at Rievaulx Abbey on Saturday, 13 August at 10am (look out for people wearing The Heritage Trust badges).
The 199 Steps leading to St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey
The Heritage Trust
Stone way-marker on Murk Mire Moor, North Yorkshire
The Heritage Trust
Historic England’s latest feature on its blog here examines some of the ancient paths and highways of England –
From main roads connecting towns and cities to meandering green lanes and mysterious paths to nowhere, our highways and byways are steeped in history. Freight lorries bound for the Continent still use prehistoric tracks, long-distance coaches hurtle along Roman roads and farmers depend on medieval lanes to reach their fields.
For more features by The Heritage Trust on ancient roads click on the Ancient roads and tracks category above
10th century fragment of a mural painting from Xinjiang (Chinese Turkestan) showing monks and Bodhisattvas listening to a sermon by the Buddha
105cm x 90cm approx. State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia 
From 1 March 2014 onwards, the Hermitage Amsterdam will offer visitors a glimpse of the long-lost civilizations along the legendary Silk Road. Until 5 September 2014, the exhibition Expedition Silk Road will present treasures from the Hermitage: 250 exceptionally beautiful objects, such as murals, sculpture, precious silks, silver, glass, gold, and terracotta, excavated by Russian expeditions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Visitors will follow in the footsteps of the explorers who mapped the routes of kings and merchants, and of the Buddhist monks who went before them. Like the caravans that crossed this inhospitable region ages ago, passing through oases, kingdoms, and monasteries, visitors will travel the trade routes from west to east or east to west, and discover spectacular ancient treasures along the way. Among the many highlights will be a more than nine-metre-long mural of a deity in battle with predators from the royal palace in Varakhsha (7th–8th century, present-day Uzbekistan). This prized work of art has never left the Hermitage before, but after its restoration, made possible by crowdfunding by the Friends of the Hermitage, it will be on display in Amsterdam for more than six months.
Details here.
 Stone way-marker on Murk Mire Moor, North Yorkshire
The Heritage Trust

There are five such stones on this stretch of the old Roman road between Egton Bridge and the ford at Wheeldale Gill, three of which have rectangular holes cut in them. The stones’ shape and height suggest they may once have been part of an earlier megalithic structure. See our earlier feature here.


Constructed through mountainous terrain in the third century bce the Jingxing Ancient Road was the main artery connecting Hebei and Shanxi provinces until the 1940s
Photo credit Yu
Shen Ting,, reports last month that –
One century older than the Roman road Via Aurelia, the Jingxing Ancient Road remained as the national road connecting Hebei and Shanxi provinces until the 1940s. Though bleak and desolate now, this cultural relic holds a lot of stories still relevant to the current generation.
A scenic spot in Hebei Province’s Jingxing County was named “Qinhuang Ancient Road.” Qinhuang, the first Qin emperor who united China in 221 B.C., ordered his subjects to build a national road network stretching to every corner of his realm — Jingxing Ancient Road was a key part of that network. Jiang Chunxia, a guide at the scenic spot, introduces the best-preserved part of the ancient road, where two tracing ruts are still deeply branded into the flagging road.
“In ancient times, this flagging was a national road, bustling and crowded with people and vehicles. Since the distance between carriage wheels were made the same and this particular section of road was very narrow, repeated travel by carriages made grooves into the road. Workers were called on to flatten out the bulges left by wheeled vehicles of the time. As a result, the original was two meters higher than the current road.”
Blessed with such rare historic relics, the local government cherishes this treasure. Since 1998, the Jingxing County government has invested three million yuan in preserving the road. Likewise, a general protection project with a 2.3 million yuan investment is in the pipeline. Du Xianming, head of the County Relics Preservation Institute, says, “The project aims to protect the relics in general, including two parts of the ancient road, as well as the surrounding vegetation, houses and villages. The investment comes from the central government and the project will last for eight months.”
Full article here.
The Oseberg longship. Viking Ship Museum, Oslo. Image credit Wikimedia Commons
Silk textiles from the Persian region found in the Oseberg ship
Parts of special bird motifs associated with Persian mythology, clover-leaf axes, a Zoroastrian symbol taken from the Zodiac are visible. Image credit KHM-UiO
Continuing with our theme on ancient textiles, Past Horizons reports Friday, 1 November 2013 that –
The silk trade was far more comprehensive than we have hitherto assumed and recent research may change our perceptions of the history of the Norwegian Vikings.
After four years of in-depth investigation of the silk trade of the Viking Age, Marianne Vedeler, Associate Professor at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo has found that the Norwegian Vikings maintained trade connections with Persia and the Byzantine Empire through a network of traders from a variety of places and cultures who brought the silk to the Nordic countries.
One hundred small silk fragments
In the Oseberg ship, which was excavated nearly a hundred years ago, more than one hundred small silk fragments were found. This is the oldest find of Viking Age silk in Norway. At the time when the Oseberg silk was discovered, nobody conceived that it could have been imported from Persia. It was generally believed that most of it had been looted from churches and monasteries in England and Ireland.
Since the Oseberg excavation, silk from the Viking Age has been found in several locations in the Nordic countries. The last finding was made two years ago at Ness in Hamarøy municipality, Nordland county. Other Norwegian findings of silk from the Viking Age include Gokstad in Vestfold county, Sandanger in the Sunnmøre district and Nedre Haugen in Østfold county.
Persian textiles also travelled east along the Silk Road; this reproduction is from one housed in the 8th century Shōsōin (正倉院) Imperial Repository in Nara, Japan
Private collection Great Britain
Full article here.

Hurler’s Update: 22 September 2013 by Roy Goutté

The northern end of the pavement petering out well short of the northernmost circle
Roy Goutté

Finally I got to visit personally what I had been waiting months to see and take part in… the excavation at the acclaimed quartz pavement or walkway first discovered back in 1938 between the two northernmost of the three stone circles known as The Hurler’s at Minions in Cornwall. However, I was in for a couple of surprises, for once fully exposed, the pavement proved to be predominantly of locally sourced granite stones and not quartz at all. Further to that, the pavement did not extend to either circle, falling short by some 12-15ft to the southern end and some 25-30ft to the north. After speaking at length to Cornwall Historic Environment Projects archaeologist James Gossip, I felt this was not expected and has now cast doubt on its real purpose!

A mid section of pavement showing very lumpy ‘locally’ sourced granite stones and not quartz as expected
Roy Goutté

James is a very enthusiastic and open minded archaeologist who it is a pleasure to talk to and work alongside and always up for a challenge, something that now seems much more likely at the Hurlers because, as the following short video clip will show, the ‘pavement’ would be quite a challenge in itself to survive without turning an ankle or two if trying to walk its length.

Uncovering the pavement while James Gossip comments on the work
Roy Goutté

On viewing the clip (which is just a small part of a more extensive one) you will notice the red sweater draped over the closest stone to the southern end of the pavement and the distance between it and the end of said pavement. It is a purposely finished end indicated by the clean cut of the stones and just beyond it an area has been cleared exposing the original untouched surface level. Soil analysis is taking place today (23 September) with material taken for dating if available. The vid clip will show a much taller pointed upright stone set amongst the pavement stones and it is possible that a section may be removed here for further study on the day. A metre either side of the original 1938 trench was opened up this time and in quite a few places areas of ‘activity’ could be seen with different coloured soils evident amongst sections of stones which all adds to the mystery as to what exactly we have here.

 The precise southern end termination of the ‘pavement’ showing the original reddish ground surface beyond it
Roy Goutté

I would like to thank James personally for allowing me to enter the site and film at will and to discuss things with him and also to Ann Preston-Jones, Senior Archaeologist, Historic Environment (Projects) Cornwall Council, for keeping me informed as to the various projects taking place in this area. This was my first day out after my recent health problems and I couldn’t think of a more pleasant way to spend an hour or two and to meet up with James again. Thanks James and also to my son Oliver who accompanied me on my first tentative steps out.

Roy Goutté

Update by Roy Goutté.

Lifting the turf covering the crystal pavement
Image credit Mike Honey

After two wet and windy days at Minions, the weather was to relent yesterday (18 September) which coincided nicely with the commencement of the excavation for the quartz pavement. Due to health issues I was unable to attend the dig as previously arranged so am very grateful to Mike Honey for generously providing me and the Trust with the following video clip which is copyright.

I hope to follow this later with a selection of still photographs provided again by Mike and further video clips as the dig progresses.

Roy Goutté.

Video courtesy Mike Honey
Mike Honey

Quartz stones begin to reveal themselves
Image credit Mike Honey


See also our earlier feature here.


The Hurlers, Cornwall
The Heritage Trust
The Hurlers: Mapping the Sun event begins today (see our earlier feature here). Simon Parker, writing in This is Devon on Saturday reports also that –
A Bronze Age crystal pavement described as “unique” by archaeologists is to be uncovered for the first time since the 1930s. The monument, at the Hurlers stone circle on Bodmin Moor, is believed to be the only one of its kind in the British Isles. Scientists and historians hope that by studying it they will gain a better understanding of early civilisations.
The crystal pavement as it looked when last uncovered by a Ministry of Works’ excavation of the Hurlers in 1938
The only time the 4,000-year-old causeway is thought to have been uncovered since it was originally laid took place 75 years ago, when workmen stabilised the site and re-erected a number of stones. The existence of the quartz pavement only came to light again when Cornwall archaeologist Jacky Nowakowski was undertaking unrelated research at an English Heritage store in Gloucestershire. As she looked through files, Jacky came across an unpublished report and photographs from the Ministry of Works’ excavation of the Hurlers in 1938. “I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I’d certainly not seen anything like it before. A feature such as this, which suggests a possible linking of the circles, is very unusual. The pavement is nationally unique as far as I know.”
Internationally renowned for its line of three impressive stone circles, the Hurlers’ original use has long been the subject of speculation and argument. Some believe its alignment mirrors the celestial bodies that make up Orion’s Belt, while others claim it was used for religious purposes. Whatever the truth, there is no doubt that it was of major importance to the people who inhabited the moor 4,000 years ago.
A guest feature by Littlestone.
The Three Howes Bronze Age barrows on Murk Mire Moor, North Yorkshire
The Heritage Trust
The Three Howes Bronze Age barrows on Murk Mire Moor can be found approximately three quarters of the way from Egton Bridge, on the old Roman road, and the ford at Wheeldale Gill. The barrows can be approached along a private track-way (no access to private vehicles) from the Roman road. The barrows are aligned roughly southwest-northeast and appear as three long mounds on the skyline. All have flattened tops suggesting that they have been excavated or robbed out in the past.
A curious feature, close to the Three Howes barrows, are a number of tall, thin standing stones dotted along the Roman road that traverses the route over Murk Mire Moor from Egton Bridge to the ford at Wheeldale. The stones are placed at about half-mile intervals, by the side of the road, and are perhaps 16th or 17th century way-markers (though they may have been used in much earlier times). The Roman road is clear enough to follow in good conditions but it would have been difficult when covered with frost or snow – even today there are no clear points to aim for when travelling in either direction.
What’s really intriguing about these standing stones is the square hole cut into some of them. The holes may have served as lines of sight, although others have suggested that they’re for astronomical observations, Ley Indicators or once held lanterns (or possibly held a square post with a lantern hanging from each end). A lantern wouldn’t burn for very long however and why go to the trouble of cutting a square hole in the stone for a square post? Furthermore, who would have lit the lanterns out there on the moor every night – this is still a very desolate part of the country with no houses for miles around. Is the answer in the shape of the hole itself? Why cut a fairly precise square hole? What might a square hole have held? A box perhaps? We’ve heard of one stone, on the North York Moors, where coins were left on its top for travellers to use to buy a meal, or lodging, if they were desperate. Did these square holes once hold a small ‘charity box’ of sorts?
At St Mary’s church in Whitby (the church where Bram Stoker wrote that Dracula, in the shape of a dog, took refuge in an un-consecrated grave) there’s a ‘bread shelf’ where wealthier members of the community would leave loaves of bread for the poor of the town. Perhaps both examples are part of a tradition of providing for the poor or needy – whether town dwellers or travellers across Murk Mire Moor.
One of the Wheeldale Stones that stand along the Roman road between Egton Bridge and the ford at Wheeldale Gill
See also the earlier feature by Moss entitled The Wheeldale Roman Road.
Site of the former Royal Air Force base at Wroughton, near Swindon, Wiltshire, where developers want to install a massive solar farm
Katie Bond, writing in This is Wiltshire yesterday, reports on a proposal to create a large photovoltaic solar farm amid Wiltshire’s beautiful and heritage-packed landscape –
OPPOSITION is mounting to a proposal to create what is believed to be the country’s largest photovoltaic solar farm in a protected landscape area. Natural England and English Heritage are both throwing their hats into the ring, as Swindon Council closes its seven-week consultation on the proposal for 50,000 ground mounted PV arrays at the former [Royal Air Force base] at Wroughton. The site will produce 41 MW of electricity on 200 acres – an area larger than the village of Chiseldon, or the size of more than 100 football pitches.
The solar farm, proposed to be inside North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, would be visible from the Ridgeway National Trail and Barbury Castle Iron Age hill fort. It would also be seen from parts of the World Heritage site at Avebury. The AONB Unit has written asking the Secretary Of State to intervene if the plan gets the go-ahead from Swindon Council. It wants the unprecedented application to be called in due to its size, location in an AONB against national policy and Swindon Council’s own planning policy.
Natural England has also assessed the application. Alison Howell, the lead advisor for its land use team, said: “The development will have the effect of bringing the urban/developed character of Swindon to the foot of the downs and into the AONB. This area is characterised by some of the most emblematic features of the North Wessex Downs – the Ridgeway, the oldest road in England running along the top of the scarp, the Uffington White Horse on the scarp face, and Avebury on the open Downs Plain, forming part of the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. This is a landscape that feels as though it has hardly changed over the centuries.”
Charlotte Riggs, the landscape architect for Swindon Council, has objected, saying the solar farm would be visible from Barbury Castle Iron Age Fort and the Ridgeway.
Full article here.


February 2023
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